Over/Under 4 Wins () vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights ()Date : 09/01/2018
Time : First Game: Texas State Bobcats @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights 12:00 PM
Location : High Point Solutions Stadium
Pick, Prediction, & Preview:
Over/Under 4 Wins vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers took a step forward in 2017 by improving their win total to 4 but 2nd-year coach Chris Ash has the ultimate goal of getting this team back to relevancy similar to the years 2005-2014 where they made 9 bowl games. There will be a new offensive coordinator at the helm this season as John McNulty steps into the role after spending many years in the NFL, Rutgers is hoping this move is permanent as they have had 9 different offensive coordinators in the last 9 years. McNulty will take on an offensive unit who has problems at the quarterback position as well as troubles in scoring (13.7 PPG in Big Ten play). The defense took a step forward last season as they held their opponents to 9.2 PPG less than the 2016 season and that might once again be the strong suit of this Rutgers football team as they return 8 starters on that side of the ball. Chris Ash struggled on the recruiting trail this past offseason and he took a step back from his 2017 class as his most recent signing group ranked 13th out of 14th in the Big Ten. In 2017 Ash looked like he changed the culture as he lured in three 4-star recruits but this year the Rutgers Scarlet Knights failed to sign anyone above a 3-star recruit, something that has become huge in terms of success in a program. This team may still be years away from competing in the Big Ten East or a bowl game but Chris Ash is trying to set the culture straight from early on in his tenure.
Over/Under 4 Wins's Latest Performance :
Rutgers may not have made a bowl game in 2017 as they ended at 4-8 but they saw a slight improvement from their first year under Chris Ash where they went 2-10. Rutgers has a ton of questions especially at the quarterback and wide receiver spot which could be a spot of concern come Big Ten play as Ohio State and Michigan will eat up whoever is at those positions. Oddsmakers have taken into account that the Scarlet Knights will be under new direction on the offense as well as inserting new pieces which is why the over/under is set at 4 wins.
Toughest Stretch In College Football
If Rutgers wants any chance of making a bowl game this season they will need to handle their non-conference schedule with ease as well as beat a couple of Big Ten teams but it won’t come at the end of their schedule. Rutgers has arguably the toughest schedule in America as they will rattle off 4 straight games against Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State to close out their season. These 4 teams are consistent playoff contenders and they could possibly blow the Scarlet Knights out by 50 or more points. Luckily for Rutgers, they will have the opportunity to pick up some wins in the first half of the season as they will host Texas State and Buffalo as well as travel to Kansas. Week 2 will be no walk in the park for the Scarlet Knights though as they will have to travel to the Big Ten favorite, Ohio State. If Rutgers handles their non-conference slate like they should wins against Indiana, Illinois, and Maryland will become a must if they want any shot at a bowl game.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights's Latest Performance :
Rutgers is hoping that John McNulty can turn around their 129th total offense from 2017 but first things first Rutgers fails to have a clear image of who will be the quarterback this season. The Scarlet Knights had 3 different guys take snaps last season but none of them stood out on the stat sheet as the leader was Kyle Bolin who threw for 711 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions but he has run out of eligibility. The only logical option for McNulty is to start true freshmen Artur Sitkowski who is a big pro-style QB as he stands at 6’5, starting Stokowski would allow for Rutgers to grow their offense more so for the future. Rutgers lost two of their top running backs from 2017 but they aren’t in a bad situation as they will return sophomore Raheem Blackshear who showed big-play capabilities (6.0 YPC) and Boston College grad transfer Jonathan Hillman who topped the 600 rushing yard mark last season. Rutgers has some problems at the wide receiver spot as they do not return any guys who had over 100 yards last season but they will need some playmakers to emerge if they want to win any sort of game. Jerome Washington will be the go-to guy in the passing game as the senior TE is coming off a 282-yard season which was a team-high last year. The defensive side of the ball is where Chris Ash has the most promise in as they return 8 of their 11 starters as well as a strong back 7 unit. Trevor Morris is an absolute monster from the outside linebacker spot and the senior will be looking to crack the 100 tackle mark once again after he had 116 last season. The guy beside him was also a tackling machine as well as middle linebacker Deonte Roberts had 96 tackles which was 2nd best on the team. The Scarlet Knights lost DB Jawuan Harris to the MLB but they still return some NFL potential guys in the secondary including Isaiah Wharton, K.J. Gray, and Damon Hayes. The three had a no-fly policy last season as the trio combined for 3 interceptions and 22 pass deflections, expect another big year out of the talented secondary. The defensive line will have to step up in 2018 and give the secondary some help but there should be promise especially at the defensive tackle spot as the Scarlet Knights return redshirt senior Kevin Wilkins who led the team in TFL with 7.
Player To Watch
Hunter Hayek, WR, Soph.
As I said Rutgers needs some reinforcements at the wide receiver position as they fail to return any big-time playmakers but they will return Hunter Hayek who was solid in the time he saw last season. Hayek is a small wideout as he stands at 5’9 but in the 8 catches he compiled last season he showed the ability to move the chains as he picked up 62 yards. Hayek is one of the lone experienced guys who returns for Rutgers and he sort of gives me a Julian Edelman vibe as a shifty slot guy, expect Hayek to have a much bigger role now that he has a year of experience under his belt. Ash said it throughout spring ball that Hayek could be poised for a breakout year in 2018.
How Over/Under 4 Wins & Rutgers Scarlet Knights Matchup.
Vegas Odds, Offshore Odds, & Odds ATS:
Over 4 Wins -110
Under 4 Wins -110
In-Depth Analysis of each team:
9/1- Texas State- W
9/8- @ Ohio State- L
9/15- @ Kansas- W
9/22- Buffalo- W
9/29- Indiana- L
10/6- Illinois- W
10/13- @ Maryland- L
10/20- Northwestern- L
11/3- @ Wisconsin- L
11/10- Michigan- L
11/17- Penn State- L
11/24- @ Michigan State- L
Overall Record: 4-8
Against The Spread Selection: Push, Lean Over 4 Wins -110
My reason for the pick :
If the trends stay on course the Scarlet Knights should win 6 games this season as they have improved their win total by 2 wins last season under Chris Ash, but that won’t happen as the Scarlet Knights have a tough slate of games and uncertainty at important positions. The reason that I say lean over the 4 win total is that Rutgers has the opportunity to sneak out a win against Indiana or Maryland which would put them at 5 or so wins. Rutgers will handle their non-conference schedule with ease and then beat an Illinois team at home who is in worse shape than them. Rutgers quarterback concerns is a problem for sure but the defense is top notch and that will be the difference between Rutgers residing over the win total. Take Rutgers over the 4 win mark if this is something you want to bet on.